There are some common characteristics that successful entrepreneurs share. Many are obvious: a drive to succeed, the desire to be their own boss, and the ability to think outside the box, to name just a few.

There are others, however, that may surprise you. Here are four traits that successful entrepreneurs share and how you can develop them if you don't have them already:

1. The ability to multitask

We often think of entrepreneurs as needing to be laser-focused so they can concentrate on their business to the exclusion of just about everything else. While focusing on your main goal is important, it's also critical to be able to juggle multiple priorities. 

How to develop it: Practice makes perfect for this one. Many entrepreneurs are list-makers, which helps keep them on track when they have many different priorities.

Develop a list that works for you, but make sure that you have the ability to weigh each task according to its importance. Some people find they need to list two or three things they absolutely must get done that day, then eight or ten things they'd like to get done, then everything else.

You may have to try out a few different list configurations before you find the one that works for you.

2. Tenacity

Successful entrepreneurs are tenacious, but in a flexible sort of way. That may sound like a contradiction, but it's important to make the distinction between flexible tenacity and stubbornness. It's okay to relentlessly pursue your goal of creating a successful business, but you may have to be flexible about how you get there as challenges you didn't anticipate arise.

How to develop it: There will be plenty of roadblocks along the way to start-up success. When you reach one, think about the different ways you can get to the next step. As you determine what your next milestone should be, ask yourself, 'What do I do if this strategy doesn't work?'

That way, you'll always be ready with a Plan B if Plan A doesn't work out, and you'll be prepared to learn from your mistakes.

3. Outgoing personality

When you're starting out, you need to be your company's mouthpiece. You must be able to converse with and convince customers, investors, suppliers, and prospective employees of the benefits of your product or service. Being outgoing can go a long way.

How to develop it: Practice, practice, practice. The more you talk to people about your business, your product, or your idea, the better you will get at it.

The most important thing to remember when you're having a conversation with someone who could make a difference in your business is to be interested in what they have to say, rather than just focusing on your story. Listen when they are talking and ask questions to demonstrate your interest in their professional background.   

4. Risk-taking

Starting your own business always involves an element of risk. At some point, you will have to quit your 'day job' and rely on your business to support you and your family, which is risky.

There are other risks you will encounter on your journey to success as well. Many entrepreneurs are natural risk-takers in all of areas of their life, but others are more naturally cautious.

How to develop it: If you're not a natural risk-taker, you're going to have to step outside your comfort zone. When you are challenged to take a risk, there are two questions to ask yourself.

The first is, 'What's the worst thing that could happen?' This will help you realize the actual consequences of the risk you're considering taking. For example, if the risk is leaving your day job to dedicate yourself full time to your business, the answer to this question might be, 'The worst thing that could happen is my business would fail and I would have to go back to working for someone else.'

The second question is, 'Is there a way to take some of this risk off the table?' The answer to this might be to bring in a partner or to wait until you have more money saved to keep yourself afloat for a while. Just about every risk can be mitigated in some way, such as making your business an LLC to protect your personal assets or buying business insurance to protect against a lawsuit.

If you have a great business idea and the desire to succeed, you're well on your way to success as an entrepreneur. If there are key traits you think you should have, take the necessary steps to develop them over time.

Published on: Nov 10, 2017